Bees are generally thought of as being beneficial insects but when they build their nests near or in homes and other buildings, they can cause a nuisance.
Read on to learn more about bees and what to do if you think you have a bee problem.
All bees are an important pollinator of flowers (including trees). Bees also come in two groups: Solitary Bees and Social Bees. Social Bees are more familiar to us as Honey Bees. Social Bees Honey Bees are the most common and they tend to live in hives in bee keepers apiaries. Bees will swarm i.e. a queen will leave the hive with many bees, possibly half of the hive’s population and they will then go to a pre-chosen (by the bees) site: a hollow in a tree, a chimney, sometimes even gaining entry in to cavities in brick work through an air vent. They will also occupy soffits and facias, anywhere there is a gap with a small enough entrance to be able to defend their honey stores, but large enough to allow the workers to produce wax and build egg chambers and honey cells in which they will store nectar and convert it into honey.
Bees swarming is a natural occurance which will take place from April through to September each year, but usually early summer and late spring. Swarms will sometimes rest in shrubs, clothes lines, bird boxes, trees. These should not be approaches as there could be many thousands of bees in a swarm and they may be of a bad nature. Swarms should only be collected by an experienced bee keeper (as I am) who has all the correct clothing to prevent multiple stings.
Swarms usually take the shape of a football/rugby ball, with bees flying backwards and forwards from it. Swarms that have entered the structure of a building may be more difficult to deal with but advice will be given.
Other social bees – the bumble bee
These bees also have a queen and cast system, workers, fertile males and queens. Many of these are more active at lower temperatures than wasps. They are more abundant when flowers are in flower and producing nectar and pollen. (Wasps feed on inserts/larvae). By mid to late summer Bumble bee colonies will have died off and queens will be getting ready to hibernate. The
only bumble bee species to concern us would be the Tree Nesting Bumble Bee.
Most bees have a barbed sting, some do not have the capacity to pierce the skin (these being solitary wasps mainly).
Something flying around gutters/soffits/dormer window etc? It could be…. The Tree Nesting Bumble Bee – Bombus Hynporum
These are a new species to England arriving about 15 years ago, now slowly spreading in to Scotland with some reports of them in Ireland. These bees (or the queen) will enter soffits and facias, bird boxes etc. instead of naturally occurring holes in trees where she will build a nest out of life insulation and she will lay eggs so workers will appear. These bees can be more defensive than normal bumble bees so caution should be taken. Once in a soffit or behind a facia they can be quite noisy, especially during the night.
They can sometimes be removed, but only when wearing a bee keepers protective clothing and presuming that the nest is accessible from the loft.
Bees in your soil/brick word etc? It could be... Solitary Bees
It is said that there are over 200 species of solitary bees in Britain, all with their own niche. Depending on a particular food source (plant) and nesting site i.e. soil, mortar, decaying wood stumps, plant stems. These bees are hardly recognisable as bees are a major plant pollinator.
They will dig/chew out a nesting burrow for her eggs. When she has laid her eggs she will die as her life cycle is complete. The young will eventually hatch after feeding on pollen and nectar balls that were left in the egg chamber.
Some of the more common ones are Mason Bees, Mortar Bees, Leaf Cutter Bees, Mining Bees.